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Facilitating the delivery of landscape scale ecosystem services: How to encourage collaboration between farmers and support them in implementing multi-objective policies

Research Funding Body

LandscapePartners (This is a research project hosted by the James Hutton Institute and funded by the European Commission. From 2010 - 2012 it explored the contribution of multi-stakeholder partnerships to sustainable landscape management.)

Project Objectives

To provide a platform for discussion about how farmers can be encouraged to collaborate to implement multi-objective policies. Specifically the project aimed to:

  • familiarise participants with different approaches;
  • identify the ingredients for a workable and successful approach;
  • discuss policy and preconditions for an approach that is suitable for Scotland;
  • identify areas of influence and research needs.

Why relevant to improve implementation and uptake of water quality measures

The reduction of water pollution is an issue which affects all farmers and one which requires a systems approach to its mitigation. Through a deeper understanding of how farmers can be encouraged to collaborate and through the analysis of a suitable structure to approach this, meaningful steps towards reducing water pollution could be reached.


A workshop was carried out in Aberdeen where around 20 stakeholders attended including SEPA, researchers, RSPB, and SNH. The workshop consisted of a number of presentations about farmer collaboration, followed by discussions in the afternoon.

Key Results

  1. Participants with experience in farmer advice noted that the concept of ecosystem services (ESS) can be explained to farmers and they understand it well but it is more attractive as another payment route; farmers are pleased to see that their food production (provisioning services) is among the ESS.
  2. It was criticised that agencies still have internal silos and at the same time recognised that it is not their job to integrate and it may not even be possible or useful for government to integrate at the top. There will always be silos that funnel down activities, so the question is at what level these funnels should become integrated – in England this is the idea of the catchement approach. Participants recognised that an intermediary is missing – ‘Defra is speaking directly to farmers’ – so there is a need for an organisation in between (e.g. agricultural chambers in other countries).
  3. The structure of a Scottish approach to farmer collaboration was discussed. It should have the following features, In line with the Scottish farming context:
  • The approach should be led by local trusted organisations
  • A local facilitator is required, this person would act as a point of contact for farmers, have technical knowledge, understanding legislation and charisma.
  • The local facilitator should be paid (funded through government)
  • There was a variety of opinions of if the individual or the group should be the level of focus in such schemes



Contact Person

Katrin Prager (

Further Information

Project Information
Project Type: 
Active Project


Areas of Interest

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.